Devin Hester is football’s most prolific returner of all time. Matt Forte is one of the most versatile and productive running backs of the modern era. It’s only fitting that two of the best Bears in recent memory will retire together this upcoming Monday, the team announced.
After the pair originally retired at intermittent points this past winter, it was surmised that they would soon sign one-day contracts to retire with the Bears, the team that gave them their NFL shot, as soon as the opportunity came along. Hester took his humorous shots at commissioner Roger Goodell in changing the game as a game-breaking specialist, while Forte thanked the Bears and the team’s owners in the McCaskeys. A ceremony became the most sensible move for everyone involved.
For two of the most prolific talents in Bears’ history, let alone the NFL, to do this at the same time comes along with heavy symbolism. The Lovie Smith era was known for forcing turnovers and revolutionizing football with a dominant Cover 2 defense. That was a team built on the back of it’s defense. But the two consistently reliable pieces the Bears used to actually score points were Forte and Hester. Smith’s unit couldn’t do it alone.
Hester did this in giving Chicago great field position, or scoring himself: to the tune of 19 touchdowns in Chicago. In electrifying crowds across the entire football landscape. and being the last of a dying breed. In being the first player to ever score on the Super Bowl’s opening play.
And Forte did it in being a special feature workhorse as running back and receiver out of the backfield. In flourishing despite a mostly mediocre supporting cast surrounding him during his eight-year career in Chicago. He was the NFL’s yards from scrimmage leader since 2008 for a reason.
Monday is going to be a culmination of these memories at Halas Hall. A worthy introduction into Bears’ lore for two of the most exciting and crucial pieces of the most consistent era for the franchise since the 1980’s. That Forte and Hester get to enjoy the fun together, is all the more special.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.